As the brothers make clear it, the conclusion to reposition Haven as a model first, retailer 2nd was all about staying just one phase ahead of the competitors. Haven built its small business by hustling for accessibility to makes that couple of of its US friends experienced, getting acknowledged as a specialist in cult Japanese streetwear.

For more than a ten years, the group shuttled ceaselessly among Canada and Japan, forging relationships with beloved niche labels such as Visvim, WTAPS, Neighborhood, and American artist Kaws’s Japan-initially label Original Phony. “Back then, with the Japanese brands, it was really romance-centered,” Arthur suggests. “Now, they will do organization above e-mail, by electronic portals, but back then you just had to go there a several times and fulfill them. We were 1 of the really few shops in North America prepared to go to Japan 5 to 8 periods a year. That was a aggressive advantage for us, but it eroded with the online levelling points out. The following go for us was, ‘How can we do something that nobody else can do?’”

Discovering a differentiator

On prime of the everyday grind of impartial retail, the Chmielewskis searched for other avenues to differentiate, which include an original foray into in-home style and design and manufacturing with a produced-in-Canada label named Cypress and a biannual fantastic-sure journal referred to as Intelligence that highlighted lengthy profiles of the generally-push-shy manufacturers they stocked.

By late 2016, even so, Haven had hit a wall. “We had way too numerous plates spinning at once,” suggests Daniel. “It grinds you down, and I did not truly feel like Haven was a imaginative outlet any longer. I did not come to feel creative advertising other people’s brand names or possessing a magazine that told other people’s stories.”

“We have been spreading ourselves into a number of business enterprise types,” Arthur continues. “Dan and I manufactured the mindful final decision to get every little thing we’d uncovered from how to make product to how to develop media and use it to develop just one strong, cohesive model.”

Their final decision to reposition the company arrived at just the correct time, as the maturation of e-commerce emboldened brand names throughout the spectrum, from sportswear giants including Nike to luxurious mainstays these as Prada, to set better emphasis on their direct-to-customer channels.

This shift represented an existential disaster for a boutique like Haven. “When you’re at the mercy of these other makes that you have, any a person of them could just open up a flagship keep in your metropolis,” states Arthur. “The level is that you can’t manage what all these other corporations do. The only matter you can handle is what you do, your reaction to it. We experienced figured out where the best factories are, the finest substance suppliers, the variety of mentality you require to make goods at the best amount. It acquired us to a issue where by we were being self-confident sufficient to just take the plunge ourselves and control our foreseeable future.”

Up to date Canadiana: Utilitarian focus

Haven debuted its private label with an Autumn 2017 selection and has developed its providing steadily considering the fact that then. The equipment is sleekly utilitarian, implementing high-tech materials to acquainted workwear and navy silhouettes — what the brothers simply call their interpretation of modern day Canadiana.

By Amalia